Ava turns 7 months old

Today our little girl turned 7 months old and celebrated by doing a photo shoot with Mom, then visiting me at the office and going to Jiu–Jitsu class for an hour afterwards. As usual she was well behaved and had fun seeing everybody. Everyone is telling me that baby number two won’t be as well behaved as number one but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is we lucked out big time in the baby department.

I spent this weekend finishing my final projects for my computer programming and computer security classes and am now off for two weeks. This break from school is much needed. I’ll still be doing some programming stuff but not on anyone’s time schedule but my own. I’m going up to the original Gracie Academy in Torrance on Saturday morning with my friends Jaime and Donnie from work. The three of us have created our own little Jiu–Jitsu crew and go to a lot of classes together. We’ll be taking a class with some Gracie family members and hopefully going to get a little time to talk to them and take a couple pics. There is also a chance that Ava will be doing a photo shoot this Sunday. One of my co–workers is a photographer and she asked me if she could do a photoshoot of Ava to help build her portfolio. Jessica and I both thought it would be fun so we said yes.

Jessica is doing well with her graphic design studies and has been making a lot of progress. She’s creating new designs from scratch now and learning to use new software programs like Adobe Illustrator. It’s fun to see her taking this on. She’s also getting back into yoga and going to a class tomorrow night. In a nutshell, all is well as we begin Ava’s first summer in San Diego. Enjoy the latest pics.

This is instantly one of my all–time favorite photos.

Thank you Grandpa!

Rick left town today after a very busy and incredibly helpful weekend. He literally worked the entire time he was here. I can’t even begin to list all of the improvements he made to our house but I can say that the place looks outstanding and we are so appreciative. Our garage is amazing and we have the coolest headboard I’ve ever seen. I told Jessica we should plan on staying here for a quite a while. Unfortunately there was a connection issue on his flight home today and we just found out he will be spending the night at O’Hare in Chicago. Such a bummer after a long weekend. Hopefully he can take tomorrow off and get some rest. As always, we really enjoyed having him here and look forward to the next visit. Someday we’ll have to bring Ava to Iowa so he can "show her the cows and the cornfields." Here are a few photos from his visit.

My first Father’s Day

My first Father’s Day has been a great one. Jessica got me copy of the Gracie Jiu–Jitsu hardcover book by Helio Gracie, and it was even signed by his grandson Rorion Gracie. She also got me a Gracie t–shirt, sticker and poster. Rick was extremely generous and got me an awesome sound system for our Tv. It was from him and Ava. I never expected something like this but appreciate it so much! Last night Rick, Ava and I had dinner at Azul while Jessica was working. She was busy serving a private wedding party but was also able to take care of us. We had an outstanding dinner and enjoyed all the attention that a beautiful 6 month old baby brings. Today Jessica and Rick were busy painting the headboard that they built together on Friday. I’ll have to post a photo of it when it’s finished. It’s quite impressive. I’ve been busy with homework all day but took a break so the four of us could go for a walk around Lake Murray. It’s a gorgeous, 85 degree day so we really enjoyed getting out of the house. After our walk we went to Costco to pick up groceries. Tonight we’re going to have a nice dinner and enjoy the final round of the U.S. Open as well as game 3 of the NBA Finals. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

A visit from Grandpa

Yesterday Rick flew in from Iowa to visit us for the weekend. We took it easy last night, got take out from a local Italian restaurant and watched game 2 of the finals. Today I came home from work to find Rick repairing our washer and dryer, the Durango was as clean as I’ve ever seen it, and they had built and painted a really cool new headboard for our new bed! Jessica also found a new dresser for our bedroom. Busy day! Tonight we’re probably going to get take out again and watch a movie. Not sure exactly what the plan is for the weekend but Sunday is Father’s Day and we have game 3 of the finals that night, so it should be fun. I’m sure we’ll have some new pics of Grandpa with his baby girl soon as well.

My first stripe in Jiu–Jitsu

This week I received my first stripe on my white belt in Gracie Jiu–Jitsu. I got it pretty quickly considering I’ve only been studying since the day before Jessica’s birthday. As a white belt, you receive a stripe every twenty classes, with a maximum of four stripes. After receiving two stripes you are eligible to test for your blue belt but you have the option to wait and continue on as a white belt if you prefer. Once you get past white belt the stripes come much slower. I think I heard someone in class say it takes about a year and a half to get each stripe. There are far fewer belts in Jiu–Jitsu than in the traditional martial arts but they mean more because they take so long to get. There are lots of Karate and Tae Kwon Do schools in Southern California that advertise "the quickest path to black belt," something like three or four years, but Gracie Jiu–Jitsu is the exact opposite. We’re known for being the longest path to black belt, as in 15 to 20 years on average. I’m hoping to attend at least one class this summer at the original Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA and get to meet some of the family members that run the school.

Unfortunately Jessica is working doubles both days this weekend so I’m home with Ava and the dogs doing homework while Ava naps and watches the Baby First network. I made fun of Jessica for singing some of the baby songs they play on Ava’s channel but just now I caught myself singing the "Shushy–bye" song to her while she was falling asleep. Ridiculous. We got quite a few good pictures last weekend during our trip to Vegas and a few after returning home. Our little girl is getting big!

Playing with Grandma's iPad
Playing with Grandma’s iPad

Always trying to eat those feet
Always trying to eat those feet

Sleeping like a baby
Sleeping like a baby

Hanging out with Leo
Hanging out with Leo

Our little Hawkeye
Our little Hawkeye

With my instructor Matt Becker
With my instructor Matt Becker after getting my first stripe

Fun in Las Vegas!

Today we’re heading home to San Diego after a great weekend visiting family and friends in Vegas. We left San Diego on Thursday evening after I got home from work and made great time on the drive over. Ava never made a fuss the whole way and the dogs were good too. Friday I had some homework to do, then Jess and I went out to look at Harley’s and then ended up down on the strip walking around and sharing a half–yard frozen strawberry margarita with a blinking "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. Needless to say we got a lot of funny looks from people but it was fun. That night we met up with our friends Devin, Eve, Brian, Suzan, Tiko and Tina downtown for some beers. At the end of the night we found ourselves at a Japanese steakhouse called Musashi and were entertained by the chef as he juggled utensils and flamboyantly prepared our meals.

Yesterday I started off with more homework, then we had a BBQ at Mom’s house. Denny made it over and so did Bob and Mandi. Denny is recovering nicely from his neck surgery and seemed to be doing really well. My Mom had a ton of food prepared but that didn’t stop Uncle Bob from bringing over a bunch more food. It was quite the spread. After lunch we took Ava to the swimming pool and let her float in the water for the first time. She seemed to really like it and never made a fuss. Of course grandma took lots of pictures. Last night we went out with friends again, except this time Bob came along with us. We started out at a dive bar and watched a rockabilly band for a bit, then went to our favorite hookah bar called Paymons. It’s always a tradition for us to go there when we’re in Vegas. We finished the night off at Big Dogs, which is where I first met Denny and Linda about nine years ago.

This morning we are packing up and getting ready to head home, but first we’ve got Bob and Mandi coming over to make breakfast. As always, we’ve had so much fun visiting everyone and look forward to coming back. We’ve got Shawn and Kim’s wedding here in early September, then Devin and Eve’s wedding in late October, so we’ve got two visits to look forward to. Hopefully our Vegas friends can make it out to SD this summer for a visit as well! This was a great weekend.